Academics from the universities of Oxford and Harvard are teaming up to tackle the plague of 'badware' by naming and shaming the companies that develop and use adware, spyware and other malicious code.
The organisation will publish lists of software programs deemed to be malicious, and provide in-depth analysis of the software. It will also advise software houses on the best ways to block 'badware', and collect user experiences of infection.
"The power and promise of the internet is that anyone can write and distribute code for tens of millions of others to adopt and run. The downside is that bad code can too readily get onto public PCs," said Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of StopBadware.org and professor of internet governance and regulation at Oxford University.
"Now is the time for a long-term effort to help people know what they're getting when they encounter such code so that they won't retreat to locked-down sandboxes where they'll miss out on potentially transformative good code."
Vint Cerf, who is now chief internet evangelist at Google, said: "For the past decade we have been amazed and delighted by what we can do online.
"And yet people feel increasingly powerless to stop unscrupulous individuals and companies from infecting their computers with programs that they did not request.
"The providers of internet services and software simply must get this problem under control so that users can realise the full potential of their access to the internet."
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